The New York Knicks will return home to face the Milwaukee Bucks, who are coming off a win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Who are the players to watch on Saturday night?
What other way to follow up a blowout loss on the road than returning home to face a 25-4 team? That’s what the New York Knicks have ahead on Saturday, Dec. 21, fewer than 72 hours until the holidays kick into full gear when they have to face the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s not the ideal gift and feels more like coal in their stocking.
The Knicks actually defeated the Bucks at home last December, taking coach Mike Budenholzer’s team to overtime. The 2018-19 and 2019-20 teams are different from top to bottom, however, and this year’s Milwaukee group already blew out New York earlier this month.
For the rematch, who are some of the players to watch for? Let’s take a look:
Inconsistent or invisible for most of the season, Bobby Portis had 30 points on 12-for-17 shooting in the Knicks’ blowout loss to the Miami Heat. Most of his scoring happened in the second half, finding a way to cut a large deficit almost by himself.
Portis last had this breakout type of game in October, which did not carry beyond that one performance. Can he finally string together two big games? The Knicks need it, and the veteran big man needs something to jumpstart a rough year in Manhattan.
Friday’s game against Miami was a putrid one for RJ Barrett. His 1-for-10 shooting resulted in just two points, including 0-for-3 from behind the arc. Nothing would fall for the rookie guard, leading to one of his worst games as a professional.
Facing the Bucks is no easy follow-up, but if Barrett needs the challenge to step up, this is the setting, especially back in front of the home crowd, who he just wowed in the blowout win over Atlanta.
Barrett’s first year has featured plenty of inconsistencies. He won’t want to make poor outings like last night’s a trend.
Just as he started to receive praise for cutting down on fouls, Mitchell Robinson fouled out with over five minutes left against Miami. It was the first time that happened since Dec. 1 and the fifth time this season. He fouled out eight times all of last season.
The New York Knicks need a full game from their second-year center to stand the best chance of winning. Not having him on the court to anchor the defense poses problems, especially with Giannis Antetokounmpo coming to town.